Cable outage cuts into finales of 'Lost,' 'Idol'
Oceanic apologizes to customers on three islands
As many as 95,000 cable TV subscribers on three islands lost 24-minute chunks of the much-hyped, long-awaited season finales of "American Idol" on KHON-TV and "Lost" on KITV last night, the final night of the May 2006 Nielsen ratings survey, or sweeps.
An uninterruptible power supply unit in Kalama Valley connected to undersea cables serving Maui and the Big Island failed last night, according to Norman Santos, vice president of operations for Oceanic Time Warner Cable.
Three-thousand subscribers in Kalama Valley and 92,000 on Maui and the Big Island are served by the Kalama Valley hub. They were able to receive about 40 percent of Oceanic's channels, just not the networks airing the biggest finales of the TV season.
The UPS is supposed to protect against power surges and provide power backup, "but because it's a mechanical device ... it happened to fail," even though it is regularly maintained, he said.
The outage was restored prior to the crowning of Taylor Hicks as the new "American Idol" and the answering of some, but not all questions, for "Lost" fans.
"Everybody responded as soon as something happened," Santos said. "A live body ... had to go there and physically unplug (the UPS) and put us on commercial power. I think our response time was remarkably quick."
"We apologize to our customers ... the sort of fail-safe system we had in place, failed," Santos said.
Oceanic is working on additional backup systems, he said.
KHON is "working with FOX to see if we can work out a rebroadcast for those islands, especially for those people who missed ("Idol")," said Joe McNamara, president and general manager. "I've just orchestrated with (Oceanic) Time Warner to do that, and just need approval from FOX," he said.
"Lost" fans will apparently have to wait for reruns.
"It is very difficult to get permission from the network (ABC) to re-air something like that," said Mike Rosenberg, president and general manager of KITV.
Meanwhile, both stations are bracing for the impact the outage will have on their ratings, on which advertising rates are based.
Based on preliminary numbers from certain mainland markets, "American Idol" had 35.36 million viewers while, "Lost" had 17.57 million viewers, according to Mediaweek.com.